Have you ever felt that at certain times more people are leaving this earth than at other times? We've noticed what seems to be an increase of people passing of late. In fact, personally, we are aware of at least 10 people who have passed away in the last three weeks. Maybe that's normal for you, but not for us.
With the impact of so many people passing around us, we've been talking about how grief affects people and how we respond.
Thanks to the working world, we have been duped, at least superficially, into thinking that when someone we love dies (employee handbook says that ''someone'' must be a spouse, child, direct sibling or parent), we are allowed to grieve for three days - the amount of time the company allows you to be off work. Once three days are up, we must return to normal and return to work.
By giving people three days off for bereavement, the working world has also given us the idea that we only need three days to grieve, and then we should return to normal. In order to comply with the employee handbook, we dutifully go back to work, slap a smile on our face and pretend we're fine. We are then shocked to find that at the end of the three days, we are still drowning in grief.
Case in point: Right after Christmas I had a note from a friend who was the most devastated I've ever personally known anyone to be - including myself after losing my dad in an accident. Her devastation came at the sudden death of her very best friend in the world. She had been closer than a sister to my friend, an integral part of every facet of her life. My friend was inconsolable in her loss.
How could I relate? What could I even say to her to relieve what she was feeling in these first days of grief? In the depth of her sorrow, every word, every phrase that I might have said seemed pointless. I wondered how she'd ever get through this loss, let alone get over it in three days?
Of course, she didn't get over it in the requisite three days. Nearly a month has passed. We've had a number of notes back and forth. The most recent described how, in the midst of everyday activities that she'd enjoyed with her friend, she would find herself crying. She said she had to get a grip.
I finally said what I knew to be true: No, you don't have to get a grip. Grief can't be controlled or put in a box till no one's around.
Grief is like the ocean's tide. It rolls over us at the most unexpected moments, triggered by a memory, a smell, a sight, an activity that you used to do together. Grief has a way of sneaking up on us when we least expect it ... today or 10 years from today. We all grieve differently. Whatever the length of time it takes, it's OK.
My response wasn't profound, but it was true. More true than ''life will be back to normal in three days - get back to work''
I say to you as well that when you suffer a loss, whether through death, loss of job, loss of a life role, loss of health, any kind of loss, it's OK to take as long as you need to get through it, 'through' being the word of hope you can hold onto.
The well-known Psalm 23 from the Bible (KJV) holds my favorite thought about this very idea of getting through: ''Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...'' For me, that is the light at the end of the tunnel, whether it's dealing with death or going through a time of trial at work, at home, wherever.
Ultimately you will get through whatever it is. Just don't expect it to only take three days, no matter what the employee handbook says.
Jagunic is a Cortland resident. Email her at email@example.com.